15 Feb 2011

Our vital support to vulnerable children and young people who have run away from home or care - or those at risk of running away- is being given a big helping hand today by the BIG Lottery Fund (BIG).

Helen Bullough Big Lottery Fund Head of Region for the North West said: “We are pleased to be able to support these excellent projects to continue and build upon their crucial work. Whether it is supporting vulnerable youngsters, improving the quality of life for those with mental and physical impairment, or providing valuable skills training to reduce social exclusion, the positive impact of BIG’s Reaching Communities funding support will be felt across the region.”

Statistics show that in the UK an estimated 100,000 children under the age of 16 run away from home each year, representing one child every five minutes (Safe on the Streets Research Team, 1999). Providing targeted support for youngsters who are at risk of or have run away from home or care, is the focus of the The Children’s Society’s project in Greater Manchester.

Providing intensive one-to-one support, and offering advice and advocacy the scheme will help youngsters address key underlying problems which affect their well being including issues such as abuse, bullying, and family conflict.

The project will work with children and young people to form a self-action plan which will provide crucial information on safe places to go, sexual health advice and a range of other challenging issues which have an impact on their lives. The scheme will also work with youngsters to help plan a range of social activities and trips, such as the cinema and exhibitions giving them the opportunity to have new experiences and provide peer support for others who have experienced similar problems.

The scheme will also introduce an accredited parenting programme to provide guidance and support for parents around issues such as truancy and behavioural problems in the home and to encourage positive, caring relationships between parents and their children.

Working with local schools, statutory, and voluntary agencies, the project will benefit up to 150 organisations who work with missing children.

Donna Chadwick, Programme Manager Safe in the City Manchester, said: “The Children’s Society has pioneered work with young runaways in Manchester for the past two decades. Due to the recent widespread financial cuts, our work in Manchester would have diminished significantly.  Now with thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, we can continue our vital work with these vulnerable children and young people.

“Last year more than 11,000 people were reported missing to the police in Greater Manchester. Of these, half were under the age of 18 and, shockingly, almost 900 were under the age of 11. We are elated that The Children’s Society was successful in securing the funding and look forward to working in partnership with BIG to improve and safeguard the lives of children and young people at risk on the streets.”

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For more information, please contact Paul Martin in The Children's Society media office paul.martin@childsoc.org.uk